Thursday, June 16, 2016

"We Should All Be Feminists," by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Readers of this blog, and everyone who knows me, knows that feminism is an important part of who I am, and of my beliefs. So of course I was happy to find that Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, author of the wonderful novel “Americanah” (about which I posted here on 5/24/14) and other fiction, has a slim book called “We Should All Be Feminists” (Anchor Books, 2015). The book is really more like a booklet, is based on a TEDx talk the author gave, can be read in less than an hour, and is well worth your time. For longtime feminists, there may not be a lot that is “new” per se, but the ideas can't be emphasized too often. And Adichie’s perspective, stories, and powerful yet humorous presentation all make her a compelling advocate for women’s rights and equity. She is Nigerian, and lives both in Nigeria and in the United States; this talk focuses on the African context, but also the larger world context. Ms. Magazine had a famous saying that all feminists have their “click” moments of recognition about inequality; Adichie tells of her moment when she was a young schoolgirl, was promised that whoever got the highest score on a test would become class monitor, but when she did get the highest score, was told that the promise only applied to boys. The boy with the second highest score was given the position Adichie had longed for and worked hard for. Adichie writes about how girls and women are not supposed to be angry, how they are taught to want to be liked, and how they are taught to focus on getting married. She writes about progressive men who say, “I don’t even think about gender,” and points out that this is because they have, and don't even realize they have, the privilege of not needing to think about it. I very much like this small book, and in fact I gave copies to several of my nieces last Christmas.
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